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diseases. I could have avoided that because I knew what was going on inside me, but I still didn’t believe it. I still wanted to go on with my party life. I still wanted to go on and be the fresh and the very loud Ten- der that everybody knew. I wasn’t going to let a disease mess around with me and stop me from meeting new boys, or stop me from being driven in those fine cars. It wasn’t going to stop me from drinking the finest whiskeys, or being that very hype girl, being the IT girl”, recalls Tender.


Her carefree and careless attitude led to two episodes of serious ill- ness which forced her to eventually go for counselling, accept her HIV positive status and begin to think seriously about her life.


“I had reached the point in my life where I had no choice but to be honest with myself and accept what was happening to my body. With support from my mum and other family members I became more conscious about my health and started to eat right, exercise, and take my medication. This was the defining moment for me, this was the moment when I guaran- teed myself the rest of my life and not the end of my life. I still can not believe that I wasted my time think- ing I was dying instead of just living positively, something which I now do,” explained Tender.


Ten years later, Tender is still going strong. Looking at her beautiful and healthy frame, her glowing skin, and her powerfully positive attitude one would never guess that this vi- vacious woman has lived with the virus for a decade of her life.


Tender admits that there are indeed times when she gets frustrated with her condition.


“I won’t lie and say that being HIV positive is easy. When it comes to dating, it is not getting the man that is the issue, but rather getting him to stay. As soon as I tell them my status they start feeling sorry for me and that just kills me. There’s no need for the sympathy. My big- gest concern however is whether or not I will be able to have children in the future. I’ve always wanted a big family which I can still have, but the truth is it won’t be that easy and I’m scared to try’, she said.


Tender’s fear stems from a per- sonal tragedy that she suffered just


possible for me to have a child. But I told my doctor after he recom- mended that I should terminate the pregnancy that, ‘I don’t believe in termination’. The least I could do was use the strength I had to give birth to my baby. I carried my baby but she didn’t come to term. She was born in the sixth month. She was premature. She was tested HIV—negative. She lived with me for nine days and then she passed on,” reminisced Tender.


Tender has chosen to share her life and her personal tragedy with mil- lions of people around the world. The message that she imparts is that HIV is a condition that can be managed and that allows those who are affected to continue living their lives normally, as long as they


“I still can not believe that I wasted my time thinking I was dying in- stead of just living posi- tively, something which I now do...”


before she auditioned for Idols. She fell pregnant and gave birth to a baby girl whom she named Destiny.


“I


called her Destiny because I knew that giving birth to her could mean the end of my own life. My child had not been planned. I had used a condom and it had broken. My CD 4 count was slightly above 300, a situation which made it im-


19 INSPIRATIONAL WOMAN MAGAZINE


take care of themselves and live positively.


Tender has embarked on a career as an HIV Activist and Motivational Speaker, sharing the ‘Live Posi- tively’ message with everyone she interacts with. She has made it her goal to motivate, inspire, and em- power people all over the world and use herself as a practical dem-


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